Female Collegiate Athletes and Eating Disorders: A Population at-Risk?
Kirk, Ginger Lynne
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This study compared the prevalence of eating disorder behavior between collegiate athletes (n = 206) and college female nonathletes (n = 197). Numerous eating disorder studies conducted on the female college population have shown this population to be at greater risk of developing eating disorders than the general population. Furthermore, some studies have found that women athletes are even at higher risk of eating disorders, but the research has produced conflictual and inconclusive evidence. In this study, it was hypothesized that athletes would have higher rates of disordered eating. However, a reverse outcome occurred. The t-test conducted on the EAT-26 scores from the two groups showed that the nonathletes females displayed significantly higher eating disordered behavior than the female athletes. Additionally, relationships between sports advocating body leanness as possible risk factors of eating disorders were investigated and no significance was found. The study did find a link between age and eating disorder behavior among nonathletes. Traditionally, it has been assumed that collegiate female athletes are more likely to develop an eating disorder because of the intense training and performance demands that are added to the normal stressors of college life. This study challenges this assumption. The implications from the current study suggest additional research is needed to further investigate the specific environmental elements that may predispose subpopulations of college women to develop eating disorders.
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